ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"To Win the Ladies"
This has been an interesting, and fun Spring. One sure thing - you never know what’s going to happen in the bird world. I love Mockingbirds. They are rightly named, for they love to mimic. That is why they have so many different songs. The more songs they have, the bigger their female fan club. When I am walking early in the mornings, I play the game of counting the variety of songs Mockingbirds stationed throughout my walk area will sing. Some have as many as fifteen, twenty, even more of what they consider hit tunes. In parts of the East Coast, during the nineteenth century, people treasured the Mockingbird songs so much that they would capture and put the birds in cages to sing for them and nearly depleted the population. I’m told that extraordinary singers could fetch as much as $50 per bird and that was in hard currency. Have you ever tried counting Mockingbird songs in your area? Singing can last from February to August and then again from September to early November. Let me know how many songs you hear your bird sing.
Another Mockingbird feat is high jumping. They sing and high jump to win the ladies. While belting out songs they will jump four feet into the sky, spreading their wings to show any female listening, or watching, those beautiful white spots that are only seen when their wings are spread wide. Male Mockingbirds can be seen on the top branches of trees, on roofs, on chimneys, on telephone poles, on anything that’s high enough for show. When the singing and high jumping stop, you can assume they’ve found a mate, and it’s then my Honey thinks the male birds sneak off to watch TV and eat popcorn.
It’s possible to teach Mockingbirds new songs. I think I’m the only one who talks to birds with a kissing sound, because my whistler isn’t so good. Well, my Mockingbird has added that sound to his portfolio of songs. Today I was out tending my garden when this bird flew in and landed overhead singing . . . kisss, kisss, kisss, kisss. Of course I answered back to him. Don’t tell anyone, or they will think this person is a little weird. Enjoy outdoors before it gets too hot! And listen!
Brenda Rusnell is the artist depicting the high jumping Mockingbird. If you have questions about birds, want to talk about birds, or learn about future Red Cliffs Audubon activities call 435 673-0996.
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